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Series Review

by Author Lisa Lickel

Padula’s Montgomery High series is a hard-hitting look at today’s teen culture. Fictional, yes, but as Padula notes in her biography, based on current events. The books all feature a large cast of students who assemble and reassemble in couplehood. They are from the typically popular crowd, the faith crowd, and the straight-and-narrow group. Although it might be best to start from the beginning, the winding story line throughout the five books currently available are written so a reader can step into any of them. It will take time to get to know the different cliques, but they are fleshed and real, facing angst, fear, and joy. I did not read them in order, and wasn’t bothered.

Each story is told in multiple viewpoints and are mostly daily activities, behind-the-scenes events at school, home, church, sporting events, or activities. One of the stories, The Forces Within, is one of the character’s first-person accounts of a strange dream-like adventure with the friends lost in an evil-laced mansion. Lies, experimentation, angst, and self-discovery are explored.


Amazon Reviews
1.
1 of 1 people found the following helpful
A must read! March 5, 2017
Well written with well developed characters – this book is just as good as the first in the series. The suspenseful plot keeps you wanting to turn the page. Very realistic and relatable.
2.
1 of 1 people found the following helpful
Suspenseful December 22, 2016
Very enjoyable read. The characters are easy to relate to ane well developed. The way the author writes makes you feel like you are there in the suspense with Jason and his friends. It keeps you wanting to read more.
3.
1 of 1 people found the following helpful
Must in homes June 16, 2015
Amazing read for any one but every high schooler could use it
4.
1 of 2 people found the following helpful
Realistic book that any young person can relate to and learn from August 30, 2011
A great read for anyone going into middle school, high school, or even college. This book describes a lot of situations that young adults in our society are faced with on a daily basis and brings to life all of the consequences associated with drug use and addictive behavior. It is entertaining to read and each character is very realistic. Every teenager should get their hands on this book and take the time to read it and also…Read More
5.
2 of 4 people found the following helpful
Believable Characters August 6, 2011
I can’t believe I had this book sitting on my shelf unread for so long! Fast paced, edgy, a page-turner! Now that I’ve read the first book of the series, I am looking forward to reading the second book. Stacy has captured the teenaged angst well in her books. Her characters are believable and I found myself drawn into the story.
Well done!
6.
2 of 3 people found the following helpful
beautifully written August 2, 2011
Well this is a book that I received for review a few months back, it has set in my TBR pile now for awhile as I never found time to get to it. But now that I have read it I can only say that I wish I had gotten to it a lot sooner. I found myself completely attached to this book, I was literally not able to put it down. I would stay up to all hours of the night trying to finish it so that I could find out what was going to…Read More
7.
3 of 4 people found the following helpful
Confronts issues in an honest and real way… February 17, 2011
This book does an amazing job capturing the “realness” that is the adolescent experience. It lays the foundation for parents to start talking with their children about the issues they will inevitably confront in their futures. It is enjoyable, engaging and written in a way that seems pure and honest. The religious overtones are faith-based versus advocating for a specific denomination which makes this book accessible to all….Read More
8.
2 of 3 people found the following helpful
Really brings you back! February 16, 2011
This is a great book! It’s perfect for teenagers because it helps prepare them for all of the experiences that high school brings. The book talks about difficult subjects for teens and shows them how to overcome the obstacles. It’s also great for adults, because it really brings back memories of your high school days! You learn so much about the characters, you feel like you know them and can relate it back to your own life….Read More
9.
2 of 3 people found the following helpful
Montgomery lake February 15, 2011
While reading this Book I was taken back to my senior year in high school, remembering all the mistakes and the good choices I’ve made that year. Montgomery Lake will make you remember your high school days and how it was those days that made and mold you into the person you are now. Ever chapter brings in new challenges and new frustrations as you which you can actually go in to the book and say “what are you doing?!!!”. I…Read More

Electronically Submitted Reviews

Title: The Aftermath

Everyday teenagers are faced with difficult situations that constantly question their faith and moral compass. The Aftermath by Stacy Padula follows a group of students from Montgomery Lake High School, specifically Jason Davids who has a plethora of misconceptions about God and struggles to discover who he is in a world that has already answered that question for him.

The Aftermath is written from the perspective of Jason, allowing the reader to explore his thoughts and feelings in a very detailed manner. The story begins where the last book ended and deals with the events that follow the destructive tornado that touched down in Montgomery leaving one of Jason’s classmates, Andy, in a coma. Jason’s life is forever changed by this accident and the story follows his journey of redemption to deal with the guilt that he feels for leaving Andy helpless in a hospital room.

I recommend The Aftermath to all teenagers, especially those who are currently or have in the past dealt with difficult times or struggled with drugs or alcohol. It is not necessary to read the other books in the MLH series to understand the story. It is very inspiring to read about a teenager that everyone can relate to who deals with societal and personal issues on their path to find God.

– Elizabeth Harvey, Needham, MA


Title: The Battle for Innocence

“Jon Anderson’s heart pounded heavily against his chest as he opened Chris Dunkin’s front door. He had walked through that door thousands of times before, but never during one of Taylor Dunkin’s ‘ragers.’ As Jon stepped into Chris’s living room, the odor of beer besieged his nostrils. Chris’s home—the normally calm spot, perfect for watching Patriot’s games—resembled a whirlwind.” (page 4) In The Battle for Innocence by Stacy A. Padula, a Young Adult/Realistic Fiction novel, the main character, Jon Anderson, is thrown into just what the quote above says: a whirlwind. The story is set in western Massachusetts, and is a back-story to the Montgomery Lake High book series.

Jon, a seventh grader at Montgomery Lake Middle School, is the only Christian in his group of friends. As a result of the wild parties thrown by his best friend’s older cousin, Jon fears his closest friends are getting pulled into a world of temptation. He is stuck in an emotional battle, torn between pulling away from them and staying as a good influence in their lives. “‘God help me,’ Jon muttered aloud, hurdling over a large rock that lay at the edge of the lake. My heart is filled with conflict. I don’t want to separate myself from my friends. I don’t want to give up on them. I know you can change them. I know they don’t have to follow Taylor Dunkin’s path. Please intervene…I can’t abandon them. They need me. I love them. Please put someone in my life that can hold me accountable. I just want a Christian friend who will be able to understand my struggles.”(page 58) Meanwhile, Jon’s friend from church, Chantal Kagelli, finds herself in a similar dilemma across town. Chantal, a seventh grader at Sterling Middle School, has more than just one boy chasing after her. While her Class President, Andy, is trying to win her over with notes, cookies, and all the right words, her heart is aching over her interest in Jon. Chantal is petrified of her feelings for Jon, and decides that she should try to fight them off by getting closer to Andy. Despite many warnings from her twin sister that Andy could be a bad influence in her life, Chantal decides that it is more important to shine as a good influence in Andy’s life than to worry about the dangerous path he could take her down. Chantal finds herself in a whirlwind of her own, as she learns a life-changing lesson about the teenage world outside of church! The Battle for Innocence is filled with realistic party scenes and tempting situations that teenagers face during middle school and high school. The way the book is written allows readers to get inside Jon and Chantal’s heads and relate to their internal battles.

Out of all of Stacy A. Padula’s books that I have read, The Battle for Innocence is my favorite. I give it 4.75 out of 5 stars. It overflows with valuable background information about the main characters of the Montgomery Lake High series that makes the characters even more relatable and dynamic. I recommend this book to anyone age eleven or twelve. It has a lot of strong messages about peer pressure and making good decisions. I think anyone who has read the Montgomery Lake High books should read The Battle for Innocence to gain a deeper understanding of how Jon, Chris, and their friends got into so much trouble at such young ages. To learn more about the causes of teenage substance abuse and the gateway to addiction join Jon and Chantal in their battle for innocence.

Review by Maxwell Alva, Needham, MA


Title: When Darkness Tries to Hide.

This is a book about hope. Hope in the most serious and desperate of circumstances. Hope for healing and hope for deliverance. Hope that is only found in Jesus Christ.

This tale of high school students facing drug/alcohol addiction, peer pressure, the desire for acceptance, and unexpected tragedy hits the mark. Stacy Padula accurately portrays the battles young adults (and even older adults) go through daily. She identifies that “in the” feeling that many try to fill with alcohol, drugs, sex, and other things, and shows the reader the one thing that can fill the void—a relationship with God through Jesus.

Stacy Padula masterfully shares the Gospel of Christ in the pages of this book in a way that really helps the reader to understand. Through the characters of the story, hope, joy, peace and love are evident. But Ms. Padula does not shy away from the struggles that also are a part of the Christian life.

I will recommend her books to teens and adults alike. Well done, Stacy! God is going to use these books mightily.

Book Reviewed by Loren, a Brother in Christ


Title: When darkness tries to hide

A great story on how Gods grace and mercy work in people who accept it. Chris Dunkin who came to Jesus Christ is letting his light shine on his other friends. They are starting to recognize it, especially one of his friends, who is deep into drugs and really needs Christ in his life. It all starts with a tragedy (like how many of us start crying to God) of a kid who goes into a coma and they start a prayer meeting for him.

The point of this story to me is it shows you how God works and moves in situations and people to get his will done,even though we dont understand why or how something good can come from something bad. Like I said before, the series can be for anyone to read, teens or adults. I enjoyed it a lot, especially the way God and His Word is used in these books. Cant wait to read the rest of the series.

Reviewed by Keith


Title: The Forces Within

The Forces Within is a story that explores the power of spirituality and the battle that many teenagers go through when faced with tough decisions. The story focuses on life after Andy Rossetti wakes up from his coma and what his recovery process looks like, including the recovery that those closest must go through as well.

The Forces Within begins in Fallen Lake, a small New England town, where Leslie’s family owns a Mansion. A group of friends decides to go there for a weekend, but as soon as their trip begins, it is apparent that supernatural forces are at work. The story allows the reader to better understand the characters that they met in the previous MLH books and reveals the truth in who each person really is.

I recommend The Forces Within to all teenagers, especially those who are currently struggling with identity and social pressures. It would be useful to read the other books in the MLH series before reading The Forces Within to fully understand the characters and their relationships to one another. The story is filled with suspense and drama, something that kept me glued to each page. High school is a time for teenagers to discover themselves and this story does a great job of describing some difficulties that are very relatable, and how to get through those daunting situations.

Review by Elizabeth Harvey – Needham, MA


Book: The Right Person, Montgomery Lake High School Series, Book 1.

This story is about a high school freshman named Chris Dunkin, who, along with most of his friends, has been pulled into the party life where drugs, alcohol, and popularity seems to be all that matters until he meets a girl who seems to be different. He feels drawn to her, but doesnt figure out what drew him to her until their lives take a reverse role, that it was the life of Christ in her that was drawing Chris.

To everyones amazement, Chris, the class partier, turns his life over to Jesus Christ and everyone witnesses a dramatic change in him.

The authors purpose is to clearly show the awesome and amazing power God will have in transforming the life of anyone who repents and turns his life over to him. Regardless of ones past.

The book covers many themes dealing with teen peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, popularity, friendship, and even depression.

I loved the Biblical teachings where a teen can understand them in todays examples

Book Reviewed by:  Leon, a Brother in Christ.

 


Book: The Right Person

This book is about pretty much most of the teenagers today—wanting to party, get drunk, or high. Some of them know and have a personal relationship with God. Like this one girl who is a Christian gets herself caught up in the party scene. Then there is one kid who gets tired of all the partying and getting wasted. Then he finds out about Christ and becomes a believer.

It was a God story. I enjoyed reading this book. It has Scripture and shows how God works to get into you the good message about His Son. I recommended this book to anyone who enjoys a good story with Christianity. It may sound like a book for teenagers, but I believe adults will also enjoy it.

Book Reviewed by Keith.


Title: When Darkness Tries to Hide

Kids have a lot of questions… that is no secret! But someone has a haunting secret (and plethora of questions) bound within the pages of When Darkness Tries to Hide by Stacy Padula. When Darkness Tries to Hide is the thrilling second book in the young adult fiction series Montgomery Lake High. The story takes place in a fictional town in western Massachusetts. Jason Davids and Chris Dunkin take the lead roles in this intriguing book, but Chantal Kagelli and Jon Anderson also play central parts.

When Darkness Tries to Hide reads like a movie reel across your mind. You get to see how a bunch of characters think, instead of just being trapped in one person’s mindset. The story begins two months after where the first book, The Right Person, left off. The main problem in this book is that Chantal’s boyfriend, Andy, is in a coma, and Jason feels responsible for the accident that landed him there. The hail is pelting down. The lightning is a spider web across the sky. Lady, Chantal’s golden retriever, is nowhere to be found. Andy is outside in the ominous storm searching for her. As far as Jason is concerned, he should have been outside saving Lady from the tornado-spawning storm. Instead Andy is sent into a coma, and Jason into a world of dismay. “He had not slept a wink in thirty-seven hours. He glanced at his clock again, seven twenty. You can do this Jason, he said to himself. Just get up and go. Go tell them the truth. Tell everyone at Alyssa’s party that you found Andy’s body. Tell them that he looked dead. Tell them about the horror in Chantal’s eyes when she came rushing up the stairs. Make sure you tell them that it is all your fault.” (page 22) No one knows about Andy’s accident until Jason spreads the news at Alyssa Kelly’s party the following evening. At the party, Jason seeks out his ex-best friend, Chris Dunkin, to confide in. Chris lends Jason an ear, even though Jason has been spreading slanderous rumors about Chris around Montgomery Lake High ever since Chris turned away from drugs, alcohol, and their group of friends two months prior. At the party, Jason and Chris come up with a plan to help Andy and unite the students at Montgomery Lake High. However, no one—not even Chris—knows Jason’s secret about the day of the storm.

I recommend When Darkness Tries to Hide to all teenagers, even ones who have not read the first book in the series. I especially recommend this book to people who are going through hard times, and people who have issues with drugs and alcohol. I give this book four and a half stars! It deserves such a high rating because it has a very interesting idea running all the way through it that keeps the reader fascinated with the story, even after they have finished the book. The ending leaves you wanting to know what happens next and trying to imagine what the third book in the series will bring. I think it should be made into a movie, or a TV series! When Darkness Tries to Hide is filled with answers to those tough questions often asked by kids and teenagers!

Written by Max Alva


Title: The Aftermath

The third book in the Montgomery High Lake Series is another winner. In this book, Ms. Padula addresses the emptiness inside when a person has all the toys and all the things they want. What do you do when you have everything but are still empty? This is the void only God can fill.

Jason finds out that even the drugs, alcohol, sex, and popularity leave him feeling empty. But he is drawn to some who seem truly happy. What Jason finds is that God loves him and can fill his emptiness with his love. Jason faces the demons of addiction, pride, and lust—and in the end is victorious in Jesus.

Another well-written, spiritled book. The real issues faced and the real solutions are on point. I recommend these books for anyone from 12 to 32 or who just thinks like they are still between 12 and 32. I have become a fan of these books. The development of the characters, the story line, and the presentation of the Gospel is truly amazing.

Book reviewed by Loren, a Brother in Christ

 


Book: The Right Person

The Right Person by Stacy A. Padula takes an in-depth look at the obstacles and pressures an average teenager faces in their lives. It focuses on all the major issues a freshman faces as they enter the battlefield known as high school. 

From peer pressure to drug use to early dating, moral, and faith issues, this book exposes how these issues can lead someone to compromise their morals and doubt their faith in their quest to be accepted.

The main point and recurring theme of this book is the strength and moral grounding that is needed to navigate the troubled waters that our youth face today, that it can only be found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I enjoyed this book tremendously. It brought me to the front lines of what our young teenagers are facing. It also made me realize some moral issues in my own life that I am compromising to gain acceptance.

Book Reviewed by Keith.


Book: The Forces Within.

This is a story about a high school kid named Andy Rosettie who is stuck in a dream world while he is in a coma. When he wakes up, he is confused by what is real and what isnt.

He comes to realize that what happened in the dream was more real than he wanted to admit because it was showing him the spiritual battles that everyone, including himself, were going through in the real world.

I think this book should be called book number four of theMontgomery Life High Series. Im not sure I would have understood the relationships of all the people without reading the other three first. But I really enjoyed the story and the Biblical teachings in it.

One of the main points I got out of the book is a lot of people claim to know Jesus Christ as their Savior, but never give their hearts to Him. Therefore, they have never known a personal relationship with God and have never received Gods Holy Spirit. Then there are some who have, but they have temporarily walked away from the faith. So the outside appearance can be deceiving.

The spiritual war for our lives never stops. And those who have not received Gods Holy Spirit by grace through faith are truly deceived.

Overall, I loved the book and strongly recommend it.

Book Reviewed by Leon, a Brother in Christ.


Title: When Darkness Tries to Hide  

This book focuses around a young teenager named Chris Dunkin. Chris has recently accepted Christ as His Lord and Savior, and, as a result, his life has changed dramatically. Once the life of any party and with a long history of drug and alcohol use, Chris now faces the trials and struggles of maintaining his new Christian morals while attending high school with new Christian friends and old friends from the past.

After a tragic accident happens to a close friend, Chris finds himself surrounded by all his friends, past and present.

I believe the main purpose of this book is to show the struggles and temptations our young teenagers go through on a daily basis and the need for God in all of our lives.

I see recurring themes like the power of prayer and fellowship in this book.

I enjoyed this book because it brought back memories of things I faced as a teenager and things that I continue to face today.

Book Reviewed by Louis.


Title: The Aftermath.

This is a story about a high school kid named Jason Davids who is dealing with peer pressure, alcohol, and drug abuse. He also finds himself caught in the middle of a spiritual battle. Luckily he has several Christian friends praying for and giving him good advice, but he also has a girlfriend and older brother pressuring him to get high and party.

Stacy Padula did an excellent job of highlighting the power of prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit to work through those who are willing to be obedient to His prompting. And how this combination will always bring Gods grace, love and light into the darkest of people.

This book has so many great messages for kids and young adults to learn from, and all of them have the foundational truths from Gods word.

I absolutely loved and enjoyed this book. So much so that any book I see written by Stacy Padula I will gladly read.

This book is mainly aimed at young adults from 12 on up, but holds so much truth and Godly advice, everyone who loves Gods word will enjoy it. And Im confident they will recommend it to every teen they know.

Reviewed by Leon, a brother in Christ.


 Title: The Forces Within.

I really enjoyed reading The Forces Within by Stacy Padula. The start of the book seems a little confused—but that is by design. The confusion sets the stage for the story. Ms. Padula weaves together the natural and spiritual worlds in a very skillful manner.

The story is action packed, entertaining, and extremely thought provoking. There were more twists and turns than a labyrinth, yet through the story is a clear thread tying it all together.

Stacy Padula has addressed very real issues facing teens and adults alike in both the physical and spiritual realms. She brings social issues like peer pressure, cliques, substance abuse, and sex into perspective—and supplies the answer.

Overall, the book is well written. It was a page-turner that I could not put down. One of the best books Ive read in several years. I would say that this book is a must read especially for fans of Frank Peretti. I dare say that Stacy Padulla has taken the baton of the spiritual realm books from Mr. Peretti and is running with it.

Book Reviewed by Loren, a Brother in Christ


Handwritten Reviews
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